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Hotspot Shield VPN Recommendation – How Hotspot Shield Shields Your Privacy On The Web?



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In this digital age when a lot of day-to-day activities rely on the internet, it makes sense to keep our data safe and private. However, online privacy is not easily achievable these days due security threats posed by cyber criminals and surveillance measures implemented by the governments. This explains why privacy solutions like VPNs are rapidly becoming popular with more and more web users. In this informative article, we will review Hotspot Shield VPN which is an extremely popular privacy solution.

Background - Hotspot Shield was brought into the market by AnchorFree Inc. which is a Mountain View, California based company. The company started off modestly in 2005 when it started delivering Wi-Fi services but over the last few years it has bloomed into a full-fledged security company. The company’s VPN offering, Hotspot Shield, is one of the most popular privacy solutions on the web which has been downloaded more than 200 million times. The service is extremely popular due to the fact that it offers an ad-supported, never expiring free VPN solution to just about everyone.

Hotspot Shield Security Features

Hotspot Shield uses PPTP and L2TP/IPSec protocols to provide security on the web. The PPTP protocol is less secure but it provides extremely fast speeds for most online activities. On the other hand, the L2TP protocol is considered extremely secure but it is slower due to the type of encryption involved. The service encrypts your data with a minimum of 128 bit encryption allowing you to secure your passwords, social accounts and financial transactions even in the most unsecure environments. Here are some additional security benefits of using the service:

1) Security - Hotspot Shield protects your data and privacy from all kinds of surveillance and security threats through a tunneling mechanism. The encryption and tunneling keeps your data and web sessions secure even if you are connected to an unsecure Wi-Fi hotspot (usually available at malls, coffee shops, airports and hotels). In addition, the service has the capability to protect all types of online activities with one click thereby securing other means of communications like messaging, emailing and VOIP.

As far as logging policy of AnchorFree is concerned, the company automatically logs summary of usage statistics (bandwidth used, connection time etc.) through its VPN software. The data collected doesn’t contain personal details like IP addresses and it is merely used to monitor the performance of the network and improve the software. However, the company does share the IP addresses assigned to the free customers (not the real IP addresses) with advertising partners so that they can deliver targeted ads. The company does not share customer details with third parties unless it is asked to do by a US court order.

2) Censorship - Hotspot Shield makes it extremely easy for expats, tourists, frequent fliers and students studying abroad to access their favorite sites from anywhere. It is a well known fact that certain governments (China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Kuwait etc.) have imposed severe restrictions on the internet and they have even blocked popular websites like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Gmail and YouTube within their boundaries. Hotspot Shield unlocks all firewalls, whether they are imposed by governments or institutions, and allows you to access any website from anywhere.

Hotspot Shield Accessibility Features

Due to the availability of streaming services on the web, many people now prefer to watch their favorite TV shows and movies on the web. But since most of the On-Demand services are available only in certain geographical areas, more and more people are now using VPNs to “virtually reside” at such locations and access their favorite streaming services. Here is a list of accessibility options that come with the Hotspot Shield service:

1) Server locations - Hotspot Shield has deployed its VPN servers at the following 4 locations – United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan. The paid (Elite) customers of the service can access VPN servers from all the 4 countries whereas the free subscribers can just access the US based servers. Elite customers can also switch servers unlimited number of times so they can unlock local content from 4 different countries.

2) Speed and Bandwidth - Hotspot Shield provides unlimited speed and bandwidth VPN solution to its Elite customers so they can stream videos, use VOIP service and play games without experiencing any speed throttling or bandwidth limits. However, the free users cannot use more than 750 MB of bandwidth per day from their desktop computers (or 256 MB per day from their Android devices). The service enables faster browsing due to the advanced data compression technology built within the software. The technology also allows you to save money on mobile data plans and download significantly more data than what is allowed by your ISP.

3) Bypass GEO-IP restrictions - The elite subscribers of Hotspot Shield can access their favorite streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, ABC Player, BBC iPlayer, MTV, HBO Go, NBC, Pandora, MLB, NHL, USA Network, FOX, TNT, CBS, CWTV, Sky Go, STV, Demand 5, iTV Player, Lovefilm, 4OD, Channel Ten, ABC iView, UK TV, SBS On Demand, Quickflix, Plus7, TV Tokyo, FixPlay, TV Japan and TV Asahi from any country in the world. The free subscribers can also unlock certain GEO-IP services but they are not allowed to stream videos on Netflix and Hulu.

Hotspot Shield Setup and Compatibility Features

Hotspot Shield VPN works on Windows, iOS, Android and Mac devices. However, the solution doesn’t work with routers or ebook readers such as Amazon Kindle. The service includes a malware protection feature and uses the secure HTTPS mode at all times. The elite customers can secure up to 5 devices with one Hotspot Shield subscription.

The VPN software provided by the company makes it easy to setup the service on Windows and Mac based computers, iPod Touch, iPads, iPhones as well as Android based Smartphones and tablets. The tool allows you to connect to the service, switch servers as well as reconnect automatically if the service is disrupted for any reason. However, the tool does not include an application binding feature which means your real IP would be exposed if the service gets disconnected.

The free subscribers are served ads through a browser plugin or toolbar. The ads are displayed on every page plus you will come across a video ad as soon as you connect to the service.

Hotspot Shield Pricing and Customer Support Details

The elite subscription of Hotspot Shield is available for $4.99/month and $29.95/year (almost 50% saving). If you need to use a VPN service intermittently then you can subscribe to the company’s pay-as-you-go plans that are available from $10 ($0.5 per day, minimum 20 day subscription necessary). The elite customers can also get their money back if they file a refund request within 30 days of signing up for the service.

The company provides round the clock customer support just to elite customers. The support is available via email, phone and forum. In case you wish to troubleshoot recurring connection problems on your own, you can refer to the Knowledgebase and FAQ sections that are available on the company’s official portal.

Final Recommendation on Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield VPN does excel on most evaluation parameters. While the free subscribers of the service have to watch annoying ads at all times, there is no other VPN solution available that offers 750 MB of daily bandwidth for free. We recommend the VPN service to budget conscious users who want to secure their privacy on the web.

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